Sunday, July 22, 2007

Vacation Eyes

Freshly back from a week of vacation. Summer vacation. Recreation. Good for the soul. Good for the mind.

Old friends. Old stomping grounds. Some time with my bride. Make the old feel young.

A cleansed aura. A cleared mind. A freshened perspective.

Good stuff.

Coming back from a vacation should be a new experience in itself. One should see things differently. One should be able to see the forest, at least for a while, before getting back to work on that one troublesome tree.

We vacationed on a sailboat. Crazily, it had tv's on it. But we managed to go all week without turning them on once. The best thing about this type of vacation is learning to slow down the mind's emailed, voicemailed, internetted, conference called pace, and instead to take the long, slow time needed to contemplate, and enjoy, a slow, foggy sail through the sound.

But one feels those persistent time-management anxieties creeping up one's back, harping on the brain. You should be reading that good book! You should be talking with your old friends! You should have a drink! You shouldn't be drinking this early! You should be learning about the boat! Do something! And make sure it's the right thing!

Hah. I've been through this before. So, I know. The one important thing to do on vacation is to set worry aside. So aside it went.

Talking with old friends is great. But just being with them is enough. So, sometimes we talked. Other times we just sat, and looked at the water, or read a book. It was nice.

A week is too short a time for a vacation. As our friend and shipmate Lauren related the European view to us, a week is just enough time to get relaxed, then you are ready to start a vacation. My body tells me to agree.

But a week is what we had, so a week is what we spent. And it was a delightful week.

And then our vacation was over. We said good byes. Not really knowing when we might see each other again. No doubt we'll be grayer and fatter then. At least I'm confident I will be. But nobody cares about that stuff. I just hope it's not too far away.

Airports are especially effective at jolting one out of a vacation induced serenity. Homeward bound on a busy Friday afternoon with all of the business travellers trying to get home for the weekend. I like the business travellers. They tend to roll with the punches and be polite, while executing a kind of pedestrian efficiency in the busy corridors and long lines.

A disembodied, robotic sounding, female voice repeatedly told us that the Department of Homeland Security had raised the risk level to Orange. Well, good for them! It reminded me of a movie set in the old DDR. "The Department of Homeland Security" just sounds like too much security for me. I liked the old FBI and our local police department.

I found myself surprised at the Condition Orange Security Alert. Not because I know what Orange means. I was just surprised that all of the silliness was going on, as strong as ever.

Confession time: I'm not terrified. Not in the least. Osama can kiss my big white butt. He just doesn't scare me.

At the airport, I'm much more concerned about the plane being struck by lightning, or ice on the wings, or the pilot being drunk, than I am about terrorists.

I'm glad they x-ray all the bags. But making such a big show of it strikes me as a multi-billion dollar, permanent PR stunt, put over on us by the Bushies, to try to smokescreen their ignoring of the Osama iceberg on the horizon six years ago. Enough already. This goofiness has gone on long enough.

Saw the tv's in the airport. Iraq is still being hotly debated. I guess we haven't had enough time to figure out what to do there. The Foxies were discussing it in urgent, loud, and solemn tones. Keeping straight faces the whole time. Hooray for journalism majors. Our Fourth Estate at work.

Keeping my vacation perspective intact for one more day, I spent part of my morning today teaching my 4 year old son to shave. He solemnly told me he had a boo-boo on his face and he needed to shave it off. We shaved together. It was, in fact, the most important thing I could think to do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In Retrospect - Molly Ivins Oct 7, 2003 - RIP

Molly Ivins October 7
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Much as I hate to interrupt what is apparently a deeply felt triumphalism on the American right, now that it's over, does anyone see any reason for our having invaded Iraq?
I realize that's what we all kept trying to figure out before the invasion, but don't you think it should at least be visible in hindsight? Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire.
These are early days, certainly, to attempt a full historical evaluation. Could be a case of the forest and the trees. Perhaps we're well along the road to having everything work out magnificently, and I'm just missing it. Still, I can't see anything that's going right.
Iraq is in chaos, and apparently the only way we'll be able to stop it will be to kill a lot of Iraqis. Just what Saddam used to do. The other day, we announced we were going to shoot looters, and when that produced nightmare scenarios of children dead for stealing bread, we had to cancel that plan.
Now we're going to try gun control. That should have the enthusiastic support of the NRA. Meanwhile, the chaos in Iraq seems to be costing us whatever goodwill we earned for getting rid of Saddam Hussein, the one unmitigated good to have come from all this.
I hate to be picky, picky, picky, but there are still no weapons of mass destruction. In fact, we've apparently even stopped looking for them. Since Iraq never had anything to do with Al Qaeda or Sept. 11 — despite American public opinion on this issue — it was certainly no surprise to see Al Qaeda back again, with strikes in both Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
Bush's announcement that we had broken up the organization seems to have been a trifle premature. There was much unmuted griping from American intelligence about the total Saudi failure to cooperate before the attack there. (As one antiwar sign reminded us before the recent events, "Sept. 11 equals 15 Saudis, 0 Iraqis.")
Meanwhile, one of the other sales pitches we were given was that, for reasons never explained, getting rid of Saddam Hussein would make it easier to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
It's not looking promising. Didn't look promising before the war, doesn't now.
President Bush came out with his Roadmap to Peace, and the Israelis took the first exit. Ariel Sharon, so memorably described by Bush as "a man of peace," wasted no time undercutting that proposal. The always-unhelpful Palestinian terrorists attacked, and Sharon counterattacked and then cancelled his trip here to discuss the peace plan. The usual ugly pictures and refueled resentments ensued, the same-old, same-old of this 50-year-old cycle. So far, getting rid of Saddam seems to have had zero effect on this old deadlock.
Meanwhile, Iraq looks more and more as though it will be costing us the high-end estimate of $20 billion a year, for which the Iraqis have yet to appear noticeably grateful. The Shiites hate us, the Kurds are killing the Arabs, and we're hiring old Ba'athite thugs to run things.
OK, if this is the situation, and it's certainly what's being reported, I don't get why we're still hearing Bushies saying, "Ha, ha, ha; we won the war." Was there anyone who said we wouldn't? Since I am in the happy position of having predicted a short, easy war and the peace from hell, I think I'm looking like a genius prognosticator about now.
I can't figure out why the Republicans are happy about this. Sure, it was a great photo-op for the president on the aircraft carrier, but if you think the American people won't notice $20 billion a year because of some nice pictures, you have sadly underestimated the common sense of this nation. I realize that what we see depends on where we stand, but there is a substantial body of emerging fact here, none of it encouraging for optimists.
We may yet see hopeful developments, but damned if I can see any cause for celebration now, or even for building a presidential re-election campaign around footage of our triumphant pres flying out to the aircraft carrier. There's a very real possibility that by November 2004, Republicans will very much want everybody to forget the war now called Dubya Dubya II. (Sorry, I don't know whom to credit for that one, but it's not original with me.)
I've got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I've had a bet out that I hoped I'd lose.

Bad Picture Day

Makes me feel better about my driver's license photo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Still at Large - Day 2,129

Jeri For First Lady!

Jeri Thompson would be a smashing First Lady.

Guess Who?

Reading Books Is Hard

Good idea. Of course, most people do this sort of thing in college. Maybe Harvard and Yale need to beef up their curriculum. Or maybe Tom Friedman could have suggested that W bone up on Iraqi history before invading.

In the words of John Blutarsky, W's favorite historical figure and role model at college, "Christ. Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the fucking Peace Corps."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Good To Be Fred

Begged Questions:

What's in the glass?

A polka dot handkerchief?

Why the funeral tie?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Integration As Anachronism

The Supreme Court has ushered us, kicking and screaming, into the "color blind" phase of our great national journey toward unification of our various races. No more using race as a criteria for school assignments of children.

Liberals are shell shocked. Who knew that their doomsday prophecies of a Bush appointed Court would actually come true? They certainly seem surprised themselves. Much bemoaning of our social failure to have resettled into racially proportionate neighborhoods, and hopeful predictions that schools will find sham proxies for race, such as income, to achieve "racial balance." Good luck with that.

Conservatives, ever better organized, seem to have had their talking points at the ready. Without a trace of irony, and impressively straight faced, they spout in unison that the Court's decision is right and correct, because judging people by race is "immoral." Well, who's to argue with that?

This would be a good time for a period of national reflection on who we are as a Nation. It seems that we are not ready to become one race quite yet, though the lines around the edges are blurrier than ever. Perhaps this is a time for us to live side by side. We can learn to love each other as neighbors. We still have a way to go with that lesson.

Let us take this time to retell our national story. Look back at our American history and discern the theme that tells us what it all means. Forty years ago in Massachusetts, the story taught was of the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were the embodiment of the beginnings of America. Their story of reform minded fundamentalist Christians escaping religious persecution and secular corruption was told to many classrooms filled with Catholic and Episcopalian schoolchildren. The irony was lost. Questions about the inherent cognitive dissonance were dismissed as trouble making.

We need to tell a true story that fits us all. Without fear of offending those who even today worship our historical villains. Hero worship of our historical villains is still a problem. Ask Trent Lott.

The theme of America is the elevation of all mankind. This seemed clear to us in World War II when as a nation we rejoiced in the victory of our "regular Joes" over the Nazi "supermen."

That's our story. Let's tell it to each other.